According to the National Autistic Society there are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK. Of those just 16% of autistic adults are in full-time, paid employment.
To help, DMA Talent is leading a Neurodiversity Initiative, which aims to help businesses learn how to become more ‘neurodiverse friendly’, ensuring they are able to choose from a wider talent pool and seek out the most capable individuals for their roles.
Matthew Trerise, who has 15 years’ experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum, will be leading the training workshops.
Since 2009 he has worked in a specialised NHS diagnostic service to help develop their diagnostic programme and assist businesses with their training. He has advised multiple employers including the HMRC and Direct Line Group, on alterations they should make to their recruitment procedures and working environment.
Senior decision makers, line management and HR teams will unlikely be experts on neurodiversity, as there is limited research, best practice and training for this although this is rapidly changing.
That is why we are working with subject matter experts to help define best practice and we have been advised on a number of straightforward adjustments that can be made to help.
It is essential to tailor the candidate tasks to the job at hand, while being conscious of how to get the best from someone. For interviews, on-the-spot questioning isn’t necessarily always the most productive way to assess a person’s initiative.
Someone with an autism spectrum condition (ASC) may benefit from taking a task away and analysing it in greater detail to look at the overall picture, then provide their thoughts at a later date.
There are a number of working practices and conditions that should be considered, with some becoming more common practice.
Working from home and flexibility in working hours have really grown in popularity in recent years, as there may be days where someone is perfectly capable of doing their job, just not in a busy office. Working zones may be separated for ‘creative’ group work and ‘quiet’ project work, where analytical tasks can be focused on, noise is minimal and things like lighting don’t need to be so intrusive. Not everyone operates best in the same conditions and so you can learn a lot about your employee or colleague from observing where they prefer to operate.
Clearer communication between employees is a fundamental change which needs improving. It can be very helpful for someone with autism, for example, to be clear of what you are asking them. Let them know exactly what you need from them and when.
Looking to the future
We need to raise awareness of neurodiversity and provide a platform where consultation is available and best practice is continuously developed. DMA Talent’s Neurodiversity Initiative may be the start of a movement that will help the industry to gain access to a highly skilled talent pool, while helping neurodiverse people find employment.
DMA Talent are due to run training sessions across the UK over the coming months, please get in touch to check availability!
Kate Burnett is passionate about enabling young people to gain the skills they need to get on in the workplace. Her work within the DMA connects education institutions, students, charities and employers to develop projects which improve the employment prospects of young people in marketing and creates a pipeline of talent for the industry.